Saturday, August 25, 2012

Permanently Mine

Those of you who follow me on Facebook ( or Twitter (@caitmiller) will know that I got a tattoo this month. It’s not my first, I tested the waters about 5 years ago with this on my right shoulder blade:

It was really painful and it did put me off for a while but eventually, like most people I wanted more. I’ve always been a fan of tattoo art and most of my family have ink, whether it be a small memento or full body coverage. I was well versed in the hazards and the correct way to do things. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted, I didn’t want to regret it. That’s why I chose the thistle, it meant something to me.

Pride in my country.

I also wanted a design that no one else had and in fact the thistle I chose was actually a brooch. I let the artist see what I liked and he drew it for me.

Five years later I can honestly say I don’t regret it and I wanted to be able say the same about this time. I took time to decide what I wanted again, this time I wanted to dedicate it to my love of books and escaping into other worlds. I also have a long time love of dragons. Put the two together and the artist and I came up with something we were both happy with. A dragon flying out of an open book.

Go big or go home, right?
Truthfully, I wanted to get a bigger tattoo this time though I hadn’t really thought it would turn out as big as it did but I trusted the artist and let her do her job. She estimated it would take 2-3 hours and we set a date to come in.
I was nervous but as prepared as I could be when I went to the shop that day. By hour 1 I was wondering when the ‘endorphins’ I had been told about would kick in and help with the pain. By hour 2 I had concluded that either they were lying or that I had none. By hour three I had lost all awareness of the time. By hour 4 I was shaking and, thankfully, done. I asked the artist what was the longest time anyone had sat for her and she said 4 hours. “I don’t know how anyone could do that!” I said and she laughed and pointed at the clock. I was very proud of myself and actually have no idea how I managed it.

In the next couple of weeks the tattoo healed. There was blood, pain and finally itching so bad I wanted to scratch the skin off my back. You never know how a tattoo will look when it heals and 3 weeks later I wasn’t entirely happy. There wasn’t enough colour in it, the head of the dragon was indistinct and it just looked too dark. I really didn’t want to go back for more, there hadn’t been enough time for me to forget. Equally, I didn’t want to live with it so I reluctantly went back to the shop. They looked at it and agreed that it needed a bit more work so we made another appointment. I don’t know if it was psychological but this time it hurt even worse. It took another hour and I couldn’t have sat any longer than that. It was enough though, I was thrilled with the result but not with another two weeks of pain and itching. It’s now almost a month since I had the art done…do I regret it?

Ask me in five years.

I thought I’d share some of the things I know about getting a tattoo below, I’d love to hear if you have any more.

Be sure about your design. Give it careful thought, remember it’s for life. Generally names of boyfriends/girlfriends, wives/husbands are a bad idea. Some artists even believe them to be bad luck.

Research. Find a reputable shop and visit it to make sure it lives up to its reputation and website/facebook page. Most shops have an online presence now but it’s easy to look your best in pictures these days.

Pick an artist whose work you like. Ask to see the artist’s book, the portfolio they keep of their previous tattoos. Meet them before and talk to them about what you want. It helps if you like them too. You might be spending a while together.

On the day:
Make sure you’re well rested and well hydrated although you might think you are too nervous, eat. Nothing heavy but have something filling a couple of hours before.

Wear appropriate clothing, something you can easily expose the area you want tattooed. Make it black and not something you will miss if it has to be thrown away. Tattoos bleed and black won’t show any stains from blood or ink.

Take water and a sugary drink and a snack. This is especially important if you will be getting a big tattoo. Your blood sugar can drop during the process and you can feel faint, a shot of sugar can help.

Follow the instructions the artist gives for aftercare. Most will advise some kind of ointment but I personally used Bepanthen nappy ointment. It works really well believe it or not.

Don’t be afraid to go back if you’re not happy with something, they will help if they can. It’s their reputation too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

When real life gets in the way

Robbie Burns was right. "The best laid plans o' mice and men oft' gang agley..."

And boy, did I have it all planned out. Because of an illness in my husband's family, he and I cancelled our trip to Maine and Nova Scotia, a trip initially planned for last week and this. Spending those two weeks at our cabin in the mountains of southern New York was our second option and I made a list of all the local places we hadn't been yet. We'd stay at the cabin and do smaller day trips in between trips home to check on his mom in the hospital. This way, he could also get a good deal of painting time in and I could finish my Sweet Spot novel that releases in November. A good compromise, right?

And then life happened. We had to come home not once, but twice, because my husband got an interview for a directing job (he directs live theatre). We had to come home three more times because of an ill relative who needed care 24/7 for a few days. The silver lining was a chance to do a load of laundry, but really? It's hard to vacation, write or paint when you keep coming home!

So, after six days, we totaled one day of vacation and five days of life getting in the way. I wrote less than 3000 words all week and my husband painted only two paintings worth talking about (and one we're just going to pretend doesn't exist. Love you, honey!). We were so busy traveling back and forth, there just hasn't been a lot of down time.

The one day trip we managed was to Corning, NY. We've been to the Corning Glass Factory nearly every year since the kids were little. It's a wonderful place, but we've been there a lot, so we skipped that this time and went to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, a huge collection of western American art. What makes it unique is it's location -- in the East! Three floors of incredible paintings, sculptures and historical artifacts. My favorites were the pieces by Frederick Remington and N.C. Wyeth. Afterward, we ate lunch at an excellent bistro at the end of Market Street, then shopped the entire street before heading back to the cabin. And yes, I did, at least, get a start on my Christmas shopping!

What this is the long way of saying is that...I'm behind on my novel. I'd hoped to have it finished before we left, but I got stuck on a plot point (I'm past it now). My second self-imposed deadline was to be done by the end of these two weeks. Now I'm hoping to be done before September first. I want the first draft done before I have to start back at school. With five classes and five preps this year (and two study halls to babysit), I'm worried about not having enough mental capacity left at the end of the day to do anything more than edit.

So yeah. Life gets in the way sometimes. Okay, most of the time. We're going to try again this week, hoping to salvage a few days for relaxation and creativity. Maybe finishing a novel isn't such a crazy dream after all...

Play safe,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Story Behind Armed and Delicious

I'm often asked where I get my ideas for my books. That's such a hard question to answer. Ideas come from everywhere ... an overheard conversation, a news story, a song. Then there are those plots that simply pop into my head without any warning. That's what happened with Rent-A-Stud, the first book in my Coopers' Companions series.

When I wrote that book, I had no idea it would be the first book in a series. But I liked my hero, Zachary Cooper, and the other characters so much, I knew they deserved their own books. Zach's sister Michelle stars in Michelle's Men, his brother Brent's book is Almost Perfection. I thought three books would be enough. Then I started receiving emails asking for Breanna's book.

Breanna is the daughter of Jade, Zach's love in Rent-A-Stud. She's strong willed, stubborn, and spoiled. A woman who possesses those three S's must have her own story, right? She'd have to have a hero who's also strong and a little stubborn too. Detective Evan Stone seemed perfect for Breanna. At least, to me. To her, not so much at first. But she soon learns what she thought would be the perfect man wouldn't fit her at all. Evan fits perfectly, in every way.

I loved writing Armed and Delicious. I hope you enjoy it.


* * * * *
Excerpt from Armed and Delicious
by Lynn LaFleur

"There's an empty table in the corner," Breanna said. "Would you like to sit down?"


Plate in one hand, glass of champagne in the other, he followed her to the table. Once she took her seat, he took the chair to her left.

"Is this okay?" she asked before taking a sip of her champagne. "I don't want you to feel as if I kidnapped you."

Her eyes sparkled with humor. Evan couldn't resist a little playful flirting. "Being kidnapped by a beautiful woman isn't a bad thing."

She dipped her head to acknowledge his compliment. "Thank you."

Picking up his fork, he dug into the food on his plate. Each bite had him agreeing with Breanna about the rating scale. His taste buds did a happy dance in his mouth.

A low moan had his attention returning to Breanna. Her eyes were closed as she enjoyed the baked brie. The sound of pleasure reminded him of a woman in the throes of orgasm. His balls tightened in response. He looked at her silky hair, her long neck, her small breasts. A hint of her nipples showed through the material of her dress, enticing him to discover if she wore anything under that dress or if he'd find nothing but bare skin.

Down, fella, he told his cock as it gave an interested twitch.

She bit into her cracker piled with crab dip. Her chewing stopped when she met his gaze. "What?"

Her question made him realize he'd stared at her much longer than he should have. Instead of stumbling his way through an excuse, he gave a one-shouldered shrug and told her the truth. "Just admiring the view."

A slow smile turned up her lips. Her gaze passed over his hair, shoulders, chest. "It's pretty nice from where I'm sitting too. You look amazing in a tux." She tilted her head to one side, swept her gaze over his shoulders and chest again. "I'll bet you look pretty amazing out of it too."

Leaning back in his chair, Evan folded his hand over his stomach. "Why, Ms. Talmage, are you propositioning me?"

"Do you want me to?"

* * * * *
Find Armed and Delicious at the Ellora's Cave website now, at online stores soon.